Air wars as borders reopen: what it means for travellers

Air wars as borders reopen: what it means for travellers

After four months of hard border closures, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin are once again operating Australia's busiest flight paths - particularly Melbourne to Sydney. This route, pre-COVID, was the second busiest in the world, carrying 10 million people a year.

But the good news is that the revitalised Virgin and three other airlines will bring competition - Rex has raised funds for new jets.

Are we excited? Oh yes we are! Over 25,000 seats flew off the shelves on the NSW to Victoria route for Qantas and Jetstar alone in just 48 hours.

This surge has seen the old protagonists battling it out over flights to regional Australian areas. Qantas has introduced a new route between Sydney and Mildura, with flights between Sydney and Bendigo also taking off in early December.

Meanwhile, Virgin is reintroducing services between Melbourne and Newcastle as well as flights to regional NSW destinations including Ballina-Byron and Coffs Harbour.

With Queensland opening up, Virgin has thrown an extra 65,000 seats into the fray in the weeks up till Christmas.

And prices? Jetstar currently offers the cheapest flights on the Melbourne to Sydney route, starting at $71 one-way. Qantas comes in second cheapest with flights from $129 and a one-way flight with Virgin starts at $165. Rex is priced at $260.

Watch this space.

Picture story: Free books

It's a marriage made in heaven and may finally put an end to the favourite question of kids on road trips everywhere: "Are we there yet?" Audible Books and Empty Esky - the campaign to encourage buying local produce during holidays - have teamed up to create a "scavenger hunt" to give families an incentive to take the backroads. They've developed a series of itineraries across Australia with stops where you can use a QR code to download Audible audiobooks and podcasts for free. Family favourites, laugh-out-loud comedy and thought-provoking listens are all on offer.


Tweed artisan food weekend

A flavour-filled long weekend of bespoke food experiences will take place from November 27 to 30, celebrating the incredible people, places and produce of the Tweed. The region's chefs and producers will be serving up outstanding culinary flavours, local culture and fresh tastes. Be sure not to miss a Zeta's Coffee Tour at Wirui Estate, the farm-to-plate Pasta E Prosecco experience at Woodland Valley Farm or the Long Table Luncheon at Mavis's Kitchen.

Mountain bike season

Thredbo has been buzzing after its official reopening for hiking and mountain biking last weekend. It offers Australia's only summer-long chairlift access with 34-kilometres of mountain bike trails to explore as well as the opportunity to hike to Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko. Thredbo Mountain Bike business manager Tim Windshuttle says, "This year we've got more jumps and features to hit in the Valley Terminal Park and Little Beauty Jumps Park. The Gunbarrel Express chair will be open more often, including every weekend and throughout school holidays, plus we're offering MTB School Holiday Camps and an MTB Development Squad for the first time."

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Cherry on top

So you've flown into Victoria. Meet the growers, pick your own and buy farm fresh along the Victorian Cherry Trail. Not one to be done by foot alone, the trail extends the Upper Goulburn Valley, Yarra Valley & Ranges, Macedon Ranges and Mornington Peninsula growing regions. Peak cherry season is the weeks leading up to season so you can pop in just in time for festive feasting.

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Opera House behind the scenes

The Sydney Opera House has launched two new never-done-before tours. The new tours will see guests exploring behind the scenes into the world of staff and performers as well as learning about the architecture of the famous building. The Beyond-The-Stage and Architecture tours both have the option to add on a meal at the Opera Kitchen afterwards to soak in the best of Sydney Harbour.

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